Relics of the future or the remnants of the Templo Mayor

Focus Days curated by Frida Robles

The palimpsest site where Mexico City’s Cathedral, the ruins of the Mexica Great Temple (Templo Mayor) and the city’s contemporary main square (Zócalo) collide. This enigmatic place functions as an urban-historical metaphor. Can we exercise physical space as a means for speculative [historical] fiction?

(c) Bienal Tlatelolca

Focus Days curated by Frida Robles with talks, lectures, workshops, discussions and film programs

Quoted in the Shakespearean play Hamlet – time is out of joint. But, what does it mean for time to be out of joint? From a Eurocentric perspective, the end of the USSR and the demolition of the Berlin Wall represented the end of the social narrative of progress. As Fukuyama notes, the future in the grand scheme of telos was crushed, setting the ground for the beginning of the post-modern era. However, it is perhaps more interesting to re-visit the rupture of time and space that colonization signified in places such as Africa and the Americas. In an important compilation of the history and beliefs of the Aztecs portrayed in the book “General History of the Things of New Spain” compiled by Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagun in the XVI century, a couple of dreams were registered, the dreams that had foretold the arrival of the Spaniards in Tenochtitlan. Within the Aztec chronology, this irruption – this temporal disjuncture – was depicted as a radical tempo-spatial shift. The same can be thought about the time and space estrangement that slavery represented for the African continent. As Mark Fischer notes in his reflections on Afrofuturism and its connection to temporality and its narrative, “the kind of temporal disjunction that has been constitutive of Afrodiasporic experience since Africans were first abducted by slavers and projected from their own lifeworld into the abstract spacetime of Capital”1. The at-the-time Aztecs reigning over the now-known-space of Mexico City were not abducted, instead, their city was buried under a newer European-like city; this violent urban act can be read as a spatial abduction of a societal distribution. Territories are sensible and they remember. Can we think of a particular site as architects would do if they had no real material restrictions. An illusionary edifice as an exploration of the possibilities and flexibility of time-space in a restricted location, narrative- actions in-situ. The performativity of urban space is enacted by its architectural elements, with each edifice a reiteration is materialized.

Mark Fischer, “The Metaphysics of Crackle: Afrofuturism and Hauntology”, in: Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture, 2013, p. 46.

Frida Robles - artist and curator based in Vienna. Her practice focuses on an essayistic approach paying special attention to site/context specificity, street-based knowledge, the subversive character of imagination, and interconnectivity. She is currently conducting her PhD investigation on ancestry representation and history healing in contemporary performance art in Southern Africa at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna with support from the JUMEX Foundation.

Participating artists:

Frida Robles, Erik Tlaseca, Manuel “Morris” Trujillo, Colectivo Los Ingrávidos , Azucena Losana, Annalissa Quagliata, Jael Jacobo, Gisela Guzman, Balam Bartolomé, Antonio Monroy and Lionel Manga (in order of appearance)


17/18 March 2021

14/21 April 2021

19 Mai 2021


Summer Semester 21